081.1: Leora Fridman:: from The Special for Norman
10 October 2011
This week we present Leora Fridman’s ekphrastic series based on the paintings of Norman Rockwell. Each poem is tied to a specific painting, and initially we were going to provide links to the images. Ultimately we decided against this because there is something even more ghostly about the brief flashes in the mind’s eye of source material–this is the barbershop, this is the boy and his dog…or is it? Fridman’s work forces us to question. She creates a space that is at once familiar and comforting yet eerie and threatening through her constant subversion of the iconic American painter. The work takes on the quality of David Lynch film, where even the most pedestrian of images becomes unsettling. Through the repetition of his full name, Norman Rockwell, throughout the movements, the figure constantly changes, becoming blank and then whole again. My ears and mind deaden to the repetition then I come back. I wonder if I’m to imagine Rockwell himself or some larger construct of what Rockwell represents in his various forms. He is a trickster, clever and devilish, a kindly old man of homespun wisdom, a threat, and perhaps even a murderer. Rockwell becomes both a complex and fully formed individual and an abstraction–an idea somewhere in the ether–capable of every and anything. Here the painter of the paintings is given a new life and new images to inhabit.